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If you search for will services there are many that seem to do nothing more than fill your name and other details into a predefined format. These services also often charge money for it.

Of course people with more complicated situations may need to seek legal advice but is there not a template available that anyone can use for free for more common situations?

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What is a "common" situation?

Being single, married, divorced, in several sexual relationships at once are all common - they all have different implications for inheritance. Does your state treat same-sex relationships the same as heterosexual relationships for inheritance - how does that impact the will? What is your relationship status today? Is there no possibility that it will change before you die - which could be tomorrow or 60 years from now.

How many children do you have? Will you have more (or less) when you die? How have you dealt with that?

What if the executor of your estate dies before you do? Or doesn't want to do it when the time comes? Or values their time for doing it at $1,200 per hour payable from the estate?

What form of title is any land you own held in? Do you know how that affects your estate?

No one has a "common" situation.

Consult a lawyer.

  • I'm not trying to avoid getting a lawyer! I'm trying to research the differences. I have a will from years ago done in South Africa. I now live in California and want to compare. Common in my view would be everything goes to spouse if surviving. If not, equally split between kids and name of guardian for kids. That's roughly my current will – Dr Xorile Nov 20 at 2:01
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is there not a template available that anyone can use for free for more common situations?

There is no official form for a will offered by any government agency, and while there are a number of firms that sell legal forms, I am not aware of any that offer free legal forms.

Wills filed in probate cases are a matter of public record, but they come with no statement regarding their appropriateness.

Most rookie lawyers interested in getting into the field use forms from a former employer or buy a form book published (not for free) by the state bar association.

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